Chapter 9 Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports
• Strategic Analysis
– Point A: S.W.O.T. Analysis
– Point B: Strategic Fit or Strategic Intent
• Strategic Fit
• Strategic Intent
– Getting to Point B
• Organizational Structure Options
• Competitive Focus Options
• Country Analysis
– Part A: Economic, Political, and Legal Conditions
• Business Climate
• Economic Conditions
• Country Risks
• Currency Issues
• Government Laws and Policies
• Ethics Environment
320 Exploring International Business Environments
What You Will Learn
– Part B: Infrastructure Analysis
– Part C: Managing and Culture
• Country Analysis Group Report Project
• Appendix: A Country Analysis Report
• Case: Tyco and Mattei: Strategic Failure and Strategic Success”
After reading this chapter, you will be able to:
1. Identify the steps companies follow in developing or expanding interna tional business.
2. List the elements of a strategic analysis.
3. Prepare a country analysis report.
In this chapter we will examine the initial steps a company takes in deciding if, when, and how it should internationalize. We will discuss the kinds of strategic analyses which are performed and show how they lead into the analyses of coun tries as potential platforms that support trade and/ or investment activities. In Chap ter 10, we will look at subsequent steps involving market analyses, the decision involving entry mode, and the development of a business plan. Our emphasis in Chapter 9 will be on country analysis, while Chapter 10 will focus on market fac tors. Nevertheless, these activities only can be understood in terms of the strategic analysis which precedes them and the entry decisions and planning which follow. As Figure 9-1 shows, the internationalizing process boils down to the examination of ownership advantages, location advantages, and internalization advantages. We introduced these terms in Chapter 3 and will return to them here. Basically, inter nationalization decisions boil down to answering three questions:
1. What advantages does the company have that are likely to make an inter nationalization effort successful?
2. From the company’s strategic perspective, which countries possess advan tages which make them candidates for trade or investment?
3. To what extent should the company internalize its activities within a coun try (e.g. by establishing a subsidiary instead of exporting to the country or licensing local producers)?
The importance of the activities listed in Figure 9-1 are illustrated by the sad fate of companies which tried to internationalize without adequate analyses and plan ning. In 1984 Parker Pen Company formed an executive team whose task was to develop a global effort to market the company’s writing instrument around the world. Without doing any substantial country or market analyses, the team con- . eluded that Parker could sell a global product worldwide-one that would be the same in all markets and marketed the same way in most countries. A more thorough analysis, however, would have revealed that a number of profound..t:hanges were . occurring: .
• Japanese producers were flooding world markets with disposable pens that Parker refused to sell.
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Developing a Strategy ,lnd Preparing Countrv Analysis Reports 321
• Distribution was shifting away from department and stationery stores to mass marketers.
• In some country markets, consumers favored Parker’s expensive fountain pens (e.g. France and Italy), but in many others ballpoint pens were pre ferred. This was particularly true in the Scandinavian countries.
To make matters worse, Parker did not tailor its advertising for each country mar ket. In fact, it developed what advertising experts call “short copy” ads, guided by the belief that the fewer the words, the fewer the number of mistakes that would occur when the original English was translated into the languages of the many nations targeted by Parker. By 1986 the effort had collapsed, and the executive team had been replaced by managers more focused on careful analysis. Parker pens could be sold as a global product in some countries, but in others they would have to be marketed in response to local customs, values, and business practices. 1
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322 Exploring International Business Environments
The goal of strategic analysis is to determine how a company can move from a cur Strategic rent point, A, to some future desired point, B. The analysis process requires a deter Analysis mination of the current condition of the organization in terms of its strengths and
weaknesses and the threats and opportunities it faces. The next step is the identifi cation of the desired condition of the firm at a future time, perhaps one year for a short-term or five years for a long-term analysis. One company, Mats’Ushita of Japan, claims that its long-term planning focuses on 200-year cycles, but most firms believe that realistic strategies only can be formulated for periods up to ten years. The final step involves the identification of how the company will get from point A to point B. In the example above, Parker was clear about point B, but it appears to have been weak in determining its current strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. Since it had trouble locating point A, it was not prepared to identify a clear path from point A to point B. American Express in Germany is an example of a company clear about point A and point B (an increased customer base in Germany) but fuzzy about how to get there. In 1989, the firm, seeking new customers, introduced additional insurance for goods bought through the use of its card. This move did attract more German card holders, but the cost was punitive, since Germans tend to be among the world’s greatest users of warranties. American Express arrived at point B, but the route it chose was a costly mistake. 2
An illustration of a company disastrously wrong about the desired point B is Union-Carbide, which decided that it needed a presence in India but did not want the hassles of dealing with the Indian government. Its plant in Bhopal, India, estab lished to produce a herbicide called “Sevin,” was run by local managers reporting to subsidiary officials not directly controlled by Union-Carbide. This stand-offish approach allowed free rein to incompetent and corrupt management, with the result that a gas leak in 1984 led to the deaths of thousands of people and hun dreds of millions of dollars in losses for Union-Carbide, whose name will forever be associated with the word “Bhopal.” In hindsight, Carbide’s corporate planners would not have identified the same desired future point B if they had thoroughly analyzed the risks presented by the option. The message is clear: strategic analy sis involving internationalization is a complex process, and all elements of it must be thoroughly researched and debated.
Point A: S.W.D.T. Analysis
Initial analysis focuses on company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). Companies with no international presence must broaden their horizon and do a SWOT analysis which incorporates a global focus. Thus a domestic-only com pany might consider its self-financing ability to be a strength in that use of inter nally-generated funds for investment gave it flexibility which bank loans did not. From an international perspective, however, the lack of a strong relationship with a large bank with global connections is a weakness. By the same token, a compa ny with a successful export business rooted in an export department would see its structure as a strength. If it broadened its horizon to include further ~ternational ization through the use of foreign subsidiaries, then the narrowly foc’ilsed organi zational structure is a weakness. SWOT Analysis, then, should occur under the
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Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 323
guiding assumption that all possible modes of internationalization might occur. In.t this way strengths and opportunities which really are weaknesses and threats will be revealed.
The SWOT approach also requires a sense of who competitors are and what they are doing, and, again, the focus is on what they are doing globally rather than merely domestically. A number of factors are considered.
A company going international or expanding more into global markets needs to have innovative, differentiated products and, for large companies, full product lines. One-product firms seeking to dump excess u.s. inventory on world markets may have some success, but they certainly do not need elaborate strategic analy sis to plan the reduction of warehouse items. A long-range, broad geographic focus, however, requires the ability to meet the needs of foreign distributors, retailers, and end users for a full range of products, in various price categories, which do something not done by local products.
Successful producers of both goods and services usually have many routes estab lished to the final users. A firm used to only one channel of distribution, however, is unlikely to be in a position to internationalize, since its channel management ability is weak. Moreover, one of a company’s great strengths may be its ability to gain power in a distribution channel, perhaps by providing services or financing to channel members. With power comes control, and control can be a source of profit. This is particularly true in international business, where foreigners often have a great deal of trouble penetrating host country markets and managing chan nel relations in a profitable manner.
Companies which have differentiated products must be able to communicate that fact to the marketplace. Thus sophisticated product and brand managers must be available, as must competent sales, advertising, and promotion managers.
The major selling point for highly standardized products is price, which for the most part is based on unit cost. Global products producers, then, must have process technologies and manufacturing expertise which keeps unit costs low. This is not as big an issue for differentiated products producers whose products are in big demand in niche markets, but even here a low cost-low price focus is a great strength.
As noted above, while access to internally-generated funds are good, a company cannot internationalize without having relationships with big international banks,
324 Exploring International Business Environments
In addition, company employees must be competent in managing currency risks, using letters of credit, and procuring commercial and political risk insurance.
Beyond specific international business skills, the SWOT analyst 10Qks at the qual ity of management, especially in terms of its flexibility and human resource man agement skills. International business requires a willingness to adapt rapidly to changing conditions and the ability to hire or train competent expatriates and to recruit quality host-country nationals. A third desired management strength is an awareness of and sensitivity to stakeholder issues. International firms must oper ate under multiple jurisdictions in environments with varied cultures and reli gions. All of these entities will make demands on an organization which must be dealt with.
Point B: Strategic Fit or Strategic Intent
Once a SWOT Analysis identifies a company’s current status, the next step in strate gic analysis is to determine where the company will be internationally in, say, five years. Two ways of doing this are the strategic fit and strategic intent approaches. Strategic fit is an exercise for a company which believes it must adapt itself to the international business environment. Strategic intent involves a more active process in which a company decides on its mission and goals and then actively seeks to carry out its plans (see Figure 9-2).
Co-Steel Inc. is a Canadian mini-mill producer operating in a number of foreign markets. During the 1980s, it developed a strategic fit analysis of the global steel mar ket and found that countries were moving towards protectionism for their steel industries. In addition, it determined that clients wanted to be able to order steel and have it delivered with only minimal delay. Finally, it observed a big increase in inexpensive subsidized steel coming into the markets from Brazil and Korea. 3 To adapt to these changes, the company undertook a number of steps to ensure that it would maintain its high growth well into the 1990s. As part of its adaptation strategy, Co-Steel built plants abroad in the United States and England so that it could avoid any U.s. and E.D. trade barriers which might occur. It also located the factories near major cities so that the waste metal it needed for production would be easily obtainable and its transportation time to major clients could be reduced. This move ensured that it would have a ready supply of product always on hand which could be moved rapidly to customers. Finally, the firm sought to reduce its costs so it could compete with subsidized producers. It did this by decentralizing and letting on-site managers find ways to cut costs, running a lean headquarters staff, providing profit-sharing incentives to employees, and offering on-the-job multiple-skill training. •
[Jeveloping a Str,ltegy and Preparing Country Analvsis Reports 325
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Point B: Where we will be in five years
Figure 9-2: The Elements of Strategic Analysis
Mid-sized firms like Co-Steel usually follow an adaptive strategy, but other com panies, especially large multinationals, are more active and pursue a strategic intent approach in which concrete goals are stated and action plans developed to achieve the goals. General Electric wants its units to rank either number one or two in their markets worldwide, and it will divest if it is unable to meet its goal. Another com pany, Spalding, a U.S. golf ball manufacturer, decided that it should sell more of its product in Japan, so it took steps to enter the market in the early 1990s. The balls were sold in boxes of four, but sales were well below expectations. Market research revealed that four is an unlucky number in Japan, and golfers, a superstitious group, avoided the product. General Electric and Spalding illustrate the two sides of the strategic intent coin. An active, creative, hard-charging strategy usually is admirable, but it can be a disaster if a company ignores a detailed evaluation of the country environment where it wants to operate.
326 Exploring International Business Environlllents
Core competence The attributes of a company which dif ferentiate it from its competition.
While a strategic intent approach may foster a weak country analysis, this does not mean that the passive strategic fit approach is best. Although careful busi ness environment analysis is good, a company also needs a vision which inspires it. Some corporations develop a vision in terms of a core competence, the attributes of the organization which differentiate it from its competition. Honda’s compe tence is in motors, and its sense of a core competence influenced th’e firm to estab lish an auto manufacturing plant in Ohio to produce the well-known Accord. The Xerox Corporation’s competence is in imaging, and it constantly invests in tech nology which gives it the power to pick and choose its international markets in an active manner. No matter which country it enters, Xerox knows that it will be a top competitor.
Getting to Point B
When a company knows where it is and where it will be, it is ready to identify its options for implementing change. A decision on which options to choose will emerge once country and market analyses have been performed. The change process involves an analysis of organizational structure and competitive focus options.
Organizational Structure Options.
When a company becomes aware of how extensive its international activities are likely to become, it is in a position to determine the organizational structure which it needs to develop. In Figure 9-3, five types of organization are listed, and the establishment of these structures is a function of foreign sales as a share of total sales and the diversity of the international product line.
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Developing c1 Stralegy ann Preparing C:ountry fnalysis Reports 327
• Export Department: One-product companies which do some exporting only need an Export Department, which we described in Chapter 6.
• International Division: When export sales increase, companies usually move to establish an International Division to handle the increased geographical coverage.
• Area Divisions: If worldwide exports become quite large, then the Interna tional Division may be broken up into separate regional or country units.
• Global Product Divisions: If the company is exporting successfully and has established a number of subsidiaries abroad, it has moved beyond the sta tus of international corporation and is taking on the character of a multina tional or global corporation. A common organizational structure here is a set of Global Product Divisions. Each division handles production and mar keting of a product line for both domestic and international markets. If an international unit is retained, it will contain managers with specialized exper tise (e.g. on trade financing) which is made available to the Divisions.
• Matrix Organization: Extensive international sales of many product lines calls for a complex organizational form, and a Matrix Organization may be an option. Here both Area and Product Divisions may be created, and country managers will find themselves reporting to more than one entity. The Prod uct Division may focus on R&D, design, engineering, and manufacturing, while the Area Division concentrates on marketing in its region. Transna tional corporations have Matrix Organizations whose mission is to coordi nate worldwide production so that unit costs are as low as possible and to manage global marketing efforts. If the complexity of this structure becomes a burden, large corporations may create spin-offs called Strategic Business Units. These are semi-autonomous units with defined product lines, target ed markets, and control over the financial and other resources needed to accomplish their tasks.
Competitive Focus Options.
The final element of strategic analysis is a determination of the options the company has regarding its competitive focus. First, a company can focus on control of costs. Global products producers do this, since low unit costs based on economies of scale and rationalization of production worldwide enable them to set low prices-prices which local producers in a country often cannot match. Second, companies may focus on producing goods and services for niche markets. The 3M Corporation, for example, builds overhead projectors and markets them for classroom use through out North America and the E.D. Success in niche markets depends on careful, sus tained research, flexibility, and speed. Third, 3M also is a master of differentiation based on innovation. It receives hundreds of patents each year for products which often are unique and in high demand. Differentiation also is pursued worldwide by Coca-Cola, in that it uses advertising and promotion to suggest the unique sta tus of its brands. A fourth competition strategy is control of distribution channels. This approach is favored by big Japanese corporations such as Toyota, which
328 Exploring Internatiollal Business Envirollillents
extends loans to retailers and expects them to do its bidding in return, especially regarding not carrying competitors’ products in their showrooms. A fifth strategy is strategic alliances, in which multinationals link up with innovative companies to gain technology and with firms in country markets to gain local market expertise.
Once a company knows where it is now, where it will be or wants to’be in five years, Screening and the competitive strategies and organizational structure options available to move r
the firm from its current to its future position, it begins a process of screening and I ~ country analysis. Screening identifies a set of countries which are candidates for the
establishment of business activities. These might involve profit-oriented trade and t ! investment, cost-focused investment, or perhaps simply the establishment of a r presence in a country in response to a competitor move. By the time country screen ing occurs, the company will have begun to home in on the strategy and structure which is likely to characterize its actions over the next few years, but it always will be primed to change as the international business environment changes. General IElectric is expanding its strategic alliances in East and Southeast Asia, in its effort to become a market leader in a number of markets there over the next five years, ~ and this approach guides it in screening countries. GE asks itself, “Can we find local partners who will help us to become either number one or number two in targeted markets?” However, if it becomes clear, as may well be the case in Indone sia, that local partners are more trouble than they are worth, GE may fall back on its ability to go it alone with low-cost, low-price global products either exported to the region or produced in wholly-owned factories. In this case its screening strat egy would shift from the identification of a set of countries with powerful and well-connected firms suitable for partnerships to a set with good conditions for foreign direct investment in greenfield operations.
Screening may be based on actual visits to a number of countries to observe con ditions and to talk to officials and potential partners or clients. In addition, in-depth analysis of reports and data bases fills out gaps in the picture. Here, print, CD ROM, and Internet resources are consulted (see the IBUS 300 Home Page on the World Wide Web). The ongoing strategic analysis guides the research by pro viding a set of criteria for selecting a target set of countries. For example, in the early 1990s Tyco Toys sought market expansion and looked abroad for toy-con suming nations (see the end of chapter case). It focused in on a set of countries in Europe. At the same time, MatteI wanted to develop its cost control strategy and screened countries for production facilities, eventually concentrating on East and Southeast Asia. After country analyses, Tyco selected four E.D. nations as sites for subsidiaries whose goal was penetrating and expanding toy markets. MatteI select ed China as a location for licensing operations and also invested in Indonesia and Malaysia. In both cases the companies’ strategic analysis dictated screening activ ities and the topics to be emphasized in the country analysis.
Although an analysis of the business, economic, political, social, cultural, and infra Country structure environment in a country responds to a strategic analysis:in reality it is Analysis an ongoing process. Strategies are constantly changing, as are country environ
ments, and the nature, scope, and focus of country analyses will change. Moreover, country changes may dictate strategic changes. Until recently, companies seeking
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Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 329
market expansion in Europe analyzed E.D. countries like Spain and Italy for FDI a in production facilities. This made sense, since within-E.D. production eliminated
the problem of trade barriers, and labor costs would be moderate in the poorer countries. However, as trade barriers came down in the E.D. over the last 20 years and after the collapse of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, pro duction in Poland and Hungary with export to the E.D. became a possibility. New screening and country analyses occurred, and these drove changes in strategies. General Motors, for example, produces Opels in Germany, but over the next decade it will open factories in Central Europe. Table 9-1 lists the elements of a country analysis, and a sample country analysis report is included in the Appendix to this chapter. Notice that a country analysis has three basic parts, followed by a set of con clusions about the country relative to the firm’s strategy and a recommendation. The recommendation often has two parts. First, the analyst suggests “go” or “no go” actions. “Go” means that further analysis of markets and entry strategies should proceed. “No go” means that the country is not a suitable candidate for any kind of business involvement. Second, if a “go” recommendation occurs, a suggestion may be made about the timing of the action (now or wait) and the entry strategy (e.g. export, licensing, joint venture, or subsidiary). We should again point out, however, that some companies often begin with an entry strategy, and this drives everything else. General Electric began its analysis of Indonesia knowing that it would own shares of production facilities with Indonesian partners. This knowl edge colored subsequent country and market analyses.
Table 9-1: Elements of a Country Analysis 19
330 Exploring International Business Environments i
I Part A: Economic, Political, and Legal Conditions
Each part of the country analysis has a specific task. Part A covers the business and economic climate. Part B examines the infrastructure which supports the econom ic climate. Part C looks at the culture and the likelihood that the company’s expa triates can manage successfully in the country. ”
No business operations will be successful unless the country has a business cli mate which is favorable to companies. Depending on the firm’s goals, a number of factors are considered:
• Availability of suppliers and distributors.
• Availability of business services, especially trade financing and commercial loans from banks; accounting services; and insurance services.
• Availability of market research, advertising, and promotion services.
• Availability of freight forwarding and customs broker services.
• Presence of capital, equity, and ownership markets.
Without these services and markets, the conduct of business may become virtual ly impossible. Of course, some factors are more important than others. An owner ship market, in which buyers exist for the firm’s assets at some future point, is not essential, but it does color subsequent entry strategy thinking. If a firm will have no opportunity to sell a subsidiary, it may think twice before establishing one.
Here GOP is used as an indicator of market size, and GOP per capita may signal purchasing power. These are demand factors, and analysis of them is augmented by examination of things which affect demand: interest rates, government spend ing, government budget deficits, the structure of the economy, and productivity. Market growth and inflationary expectations also would be examined, as would supply. factors (e.g. steel, construction equipment, etc.).
The political, economic, and social risks which make up country risk are analyzed, especially in light of the government’s and the people’s attitudes to foreigners. Var ious options for managing country risk should be discussed, since high risk does not necessarily mean a company should avoid investment. As we have noted in sev eral chapters, China is a high risk country, but market and production attractive ness compensate somewhat for added dangers.
Currency Issues. •
Analysis focuses on the transaction, translation, and economic ·currency risks the firm will face and options for managing them. Factors examined here include:
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Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 331
• Availability of currency hedging services.
• Currency convertibility and ease of capital and profit repatriation.
• Prediction of near and long-term nominal and real exchange rates.
• Presence of a floating, managed, or fixed exchange rate.
• Balance of payments data and problems.
• Availability of short-term money market instruments for cash management and interest arbitrage activities.
In developing countries with soft currencies, this kind of analysis is crucial. Brazil, for example, has a history of currency instability, while Mexico has at times elimi nated convertibility. Many countries ration hard currency to the banks, and for eigners may have to wait for weeks to get dollars for their local currencies.
Government Laws and Policies.
While many issues concerning government will be covered in other sections of the country analysis, some specific concerns are addressed here:
• Laws and policies towards trade and investment.
• Competition policies.
• Regulatory policies.
• Tax policies.
• Labor laws.
• Commercial laws.
• Treatment of intellectual property.
• Membership in WTO, IMF, UN conventions, bilateral treaties.
Of particular importance are such things as incentives for FOI, local content laws, trade barriers, rules of origin, the use of industrial parks and export processing zones, the presence of no layoff laws or regulations which hinder layoffs, enforce ment of contracts, dispute settlement practices, and the use of price controls.
A country in which bribery is a way of life is a poor environment for U.S. firms, but difficulties also will arise in countries where right actions are defined differently and moral issues are not a major concern (see Chapter 8 on Ethics). This is the case in many Asian nations, which define ethical conduct more in terms of virtuous behav ior than Americans-who emphasize moral behavior-do. Since all humans share common ways of characterizing what is right and good, however, Americans would not find any ethical code totally unfamiliar, but only American expatriates tolerant of different emphases in some countries will succeed in international assignments.
332 Exploring International Business Environments
Part B: Infrastructure Analysis
The focus in this part is on the factors which support the economic and business climate and allow it to function. The important economic infrastructure services to be examined cover power generation, telecommunications, transport, water, san itation, and the financial sector. Within social infrastructure, analysts will examine demographic conditions and projections and then home in on the health and edu cation resources which influence labor markets and productivity. In some coun tries, natural and physical resources may be discussed, especially in conjunction with an analysis of options for locating main offices, production facilities, and sup port services (e.g. warehouses). As discussed in the end of chapter case, Tyco chose to locate its E.D. distribution center in Belgium, probably because of its central position and easy access to port facilities at Antwerp, while MatteI’s choice of south ern China gave it access to the main consumer markets in the country and to export markets through Hong Kong.
Part C: Managing and Culture
Even if a country has a good economic and legal environment and suitable infra structure, its cultural and religious values, beliefs, and practices may create unac ceptable conditions for a foreign company. A careful analysis of culture, using the Hofstede scales and other resources, will establish commonalities and differences among host, home, and corporate cultures. Religious practices in Iran during the 1980s and 1990s made it almost impossible for foreigners to do business there, but this was an extreme case. In most situations, expatriates can adopt employee man agement practices tailored for the local culture, if they are allowed to do so. The fact is that many corporations use relatively standardized human resource manage ment systems because they are comfortable with them and costs are easily con trolled. In these cases, culture analysis reveals the strengths and weaknesses of their systems in the target country. For example, we saw in Chapter 7 that Intel urges its staff to be outspoken and discursive, since the company’s strategy is based on differentiation through creativity and innovation which emerge out of intense discussions and even conflict. This approach makes employees in the Japanese subsidiary uncomfortable, yet Intel has done very well in Japan. Its expatriate man agers, knowing the gap between Intel culture and Japanese culture, do not rely as much on creative conflict in Japan as they do elsewhere, and they are careful in their hiring to select engineers who are somewhat tolerant of Intel’s foreign ways.
In addition to managing host country employees, the company must deter mine the problems its expatriates will face in the foreign culture and either devel op ways to help them cope or provide extra compensation for their extra burdens. One coping devise is language training, but the company has to weigh the costs and benefits of having its expatriates learn the local tongue. If strategy dictates that managers gain broad experience in global markets selling global products, lan guage skills may not be important. However, when a firm concentrates on tailor ing products and services for selected markets in a few targeted .(;puntries, then language ability is crucial. We can see here how strategy analysis drives screening activities and country analyses. It dictates what is important to a company and
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Developing a Strategy dnd Preparing Country Analysis Reports 333
what is not and directs its attention to countries with business environments which are suitable platforms to support activities in pursuit of corporate goals.
A company which is internationalizing or contemplating an expansion in inter national markets undertakes a complex series of planning efforts involving the following:
• Strategic analysis to identify its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats; the status it will have or hopes to have at some future point; and the options it has in structure and competitive focus to move the organiza tion towards the future pOint.
• Screening to identify a set of countries or international markets which are candidates for the firm’s business activities.
• Country analysis of each targeted country, directed by the ongoing strategic analysis.
• Market analysis to identify opportunities for learning, growth, or immediate returns on investment in each country. In some corporations pursuing a cost focused strategy, foreign labor markets are analyzed to identify production sites.
• Entry Mode analysis to evaluate the pros and cons of exporting, licensing, joint ventures, subsidiaries, or a mix of these as the mode of future involve ment in the country.
• Business plan development to guide managers in a step by step fashion as they enter a country and pursue the company’s strategy there.
1. Pick a US. company and a product or service which it offers (e.g., Gener al Electric, medical diagnostic equipment). If a product, you must list the Harmonized System (HS) number in your report introduction. (See the HS link on the /BUS 300 website)
2. Now assume your company is considering the establishment of a factory to produce the product in (you pick a country). Establishing an office to offer a service is okay, also.
3. Your group’s task is to conduct a country analysis which will serve three purposes (and have three parts). Each team member will do one part. All team members will jointly do an Introduction and a Recommendation.
Introduction: State your purpose and provide brief background material. List the HS number, if any.
Part A: Help your firm decide whether or not the country has an economic, political, ethical, and legal environment which is acceptable.
Part B: Help your firm decide whether or not infrastructure in the country will be suitable. Decide on a location with in the country.
334 Exploring International Business Environments
Part C: Help your firm’s American managers who might work in the country (a) understand the cultural environment they will encounter in the workplace, (B) decide whether or not it is suitable, and (c) develop appropri ate ways of managing people, information, and things. Item (c) is the most important.
Recommendation: Evaluate the findings and justify a Go/No go recom mendation (or wait, use a joint venture, etc.). List in two columns all the pros and cons developed in Parts A, B, and C.
4. To find information, use the IBUS 300 Home Page, the National Trade Data Bank, World Bank tables, and IMF data.
5. Use the sample country analysis report at the end of this chapter as a model.
Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 335
rk Appendix: A Country Analysis Report nt Ie ‘i ;s,
The report reproduced here was prepared for a company contemplating an expan sion of its U.S. fish processing operations to Thailand.
COUNTRY ANALYSIS OF THAILAND
NEPTUNE SEAFOODS CORPORATION
336 Exploring International Business Envil’Onments
PART ONE: Political, Legal and Economic Environments
Thai Politics and Policy
A Legal Guide to Doing Business in Thailand
The Thai Economy at a Glance
PART TWO: Infrastructure: Natural, Human, and Physical Resources
PART THREE: Cultural Environment
General Characteristics of the Thai Culture
Cost/Benefit Analysis to Doing Business in Thailand
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xx is long term. Joint ventures can be aban
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Europe, competing (X on the basis of low
Developing a Strategy and Prep,lring Country Analysis Reports 337
With an eye on diversifying Neptune Seafoods’ present product line to include yellow fin sole, the Chief Executive Officer has requested that a feasibility study be undertaken. The capital cost (for retrofitting an Alaskan plant with automated Baader fillet machines) to process yellowfin into fillets at one of our existing Alaska operations is extremely prohibitive. Thus we are investigating investment in a secondary seafood processing plant for export-oriented pro duction in various Asian countries where the utilization of hand-filleting would significantly reduce the cost of the project. In Neptune’s preliminary screening, Thailand surfaced as a key site for our company’s business venture. Due to the uncertain future of Yellowfin resources, manufacturing would be on a joint venture basis as opposed to direct investment. We intend to bring in Nep tune managers to oversee the production end of our operations; however, we will employ Thai managers to assist with other operational aspects. Our basic thought is to bring whole frozen Yellowfin sole into Thailand, where it would be hand-filleted utilizing local labor, refrozen, packaged, and exported to the United States and Europe. The goal of this environmental analysis is to provide an overview of the suitability of Thailand’s investment climate for our project proposal. We have pursued that goal through a three-pronged analysis of:
• The fabric of Thailand’s political, legal, and economic environments,
• The suitability of infrastructure in terms of Thailand’s natural, human, and physical resources.
• And the underlying cultural environment of Thailand as accepting and supportive of Neptune’s business operations.
Political, Legal and Economic Environments
This section provides a survey of Thailand’s political, legal, and economic environments as they pertain to Neptune’s investment proposal. First, we will examine the Thai political structure in an attempt to determine if the political and policy landscape will be such that Neptune will have adequate assurance of stability and a good return on investment (ROI). Second, we will briefly analyze applicable Thai law to ascertain if comprehensive regulations are in place that impede or support our ability to set up operations and meet ROI requirements. Finally, we will look at the economic environment of Thai land to provide a survey of economic policy and key economic indicators and their likely effect on our investment project.
338 Exploring International Business Environments
Neptune’s operation could be the target of anti-foreign sentiment.
Thai Politics and Policy
Historically known as Siam, Thailand was an absolute monarchy under the Rama dynasty until the army seized power in 1947, setting a precedent for a series of military regimes until August 1988, when General Chatchai
tChoonhaven was appointed Prime Minister. Thailand has been predomi 1nantly ruled by a succession of military governments with strong leaders act
ing very much as autocrats, and deriving their legitimacy from the monarchy. Brief periods of civilian government have been characterized by factionalism among competing interest groups, precipitating further military takeovers designed to restore stability. Changes of government by coup d’etat have been numerous although generally bloodless. The present day Thai monarchy con tinues to play an important role in the country’s affairs, acting as a stabiliz ing force in times of political instability. Following the September 1992 general elections, a democratic coalition emerged to capture an effective lower house majority, with Democratic Party leader Chuan Leekpai elected as the nation’s first non-wealthy, nonmilitary leader in 60 years.
Short Term Political Forecast
The Thai political environment has changed dramatically with the formation of a five-party coalition government under Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai. The coalition comprises four anti-military parties: the Democratic Party of
tPrime Minister Chuan, Palang Dharma (Moral Force), the New Aspiration jParty, and Solidarity, plus the Social Action Party that is generally support
ive of the military. For the first time civilians now dominate Thailand’s gov ernment and only time will tell if the military will be content with the new structure. Little unites these parties, and the coalition remains fragile and highly susceptible to interference by the military. As a result, in the short term, the Chuan government appears unstable. l Thai politics are among the world’s most unpredictable, and political commentators are not ruling out formation of a new coalition, or dissolution of parliament and fresh elections by year’s end.2 Given Thailand’s turbulent political past and uncertain fore cast, Neptune’s investment decisions should reflect the possibility of future political upheaval and moderately high country risk.
The Thai government maintains a competitive, export-oriented, free market philosophy, and encourages foreign direct investment as a means of pro moting economic development, employment and technology transfer. 3 Thai land’s strengths for Neptune include: (1) an open market-oriented economy, (2) a minimum of government intervention, (3) support for the G~neral Agree ment on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organi:l(~tion (WTO), and (4) modernization of essential public services and the physical infra structure. 4 Thailand has been an increasingly outspoken advocate of the
Costs imposed on Neptune’s imported machinery through tariffs and duties will below.
This service could be very helpful to Nep tune, if it pursues the joint venture entry mode.
Neptune will want to agree with its Thai partner on how to settle any disputes between themselves.
Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 339
GATT, and the free trade rules imposed under the GATT have had a tremen dous influence on the pace of liberalization of the Thai economy.s Further, Thailand’s support of the GATT and the new World Trade Organization will reduce the operating cost of our investment project. To broaden Thailand’s tra ditional agrarian base the government has long encouraged industrialization, specifically by making incentives available to encourage investment from domestic and foreign sources. In particular the Chuan administration is focused on developing Thailand’s regional areas to address income dispari ty between urban and rural districts, and to relieve industrial concentration in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region (BMR). In addition, the Thai govern ment strongly supports export activities as a way of generating foreign exchange and avoiding imbalances in the balance of trade.6 Neptune’s export oriented project will be seen by the Thai government as a step toward pro moting industrialization, employment, and the transfer of knowledge.
The government, through the Board of Investment (BOI), Industrial Estates Authority of Thailand (IEAT) and other agencies, encourages investment by providing a wide range of incentives, guarantees, and services to both Thai and foreign investors under the 1977 Investment Promotion Act and the 1979 Industrial Estates Authority Act. The government places considerable empha sis on the use of BOI and IEAT privileges to achieve policy targets related to export activities and to the decentralization of industries into the regional areas. In conjunction with fiscal investment incentives, the BOI provides busi ness-oriented services. These include the provision of investment informa tion, investment opportunity surveys, and of particular interest to Neptune, the identification of potential industry specific joint venture partners. Assistance is also provided to companies in obtaining permits and licenses required for setting up a business in Thailand. In addition to Neptune’s qualifying for privileges oriented to exporting, we should seek subsidies by locating in a less developed zone and/ or setting up within an Industrial Estate.
A legal Guide to Doing Business in Thailand
Business Law Structure
Thailand’s legal system is based on a civil law system with influences of com mon law. Foreigners in Thailand derive their legal rights primarily from the domestic laws of Thailand. In general, we will enjoy the same basic rights as Thai nationals. Thai law recognizes four types of business organizations: (1) the ordinary partnership, (2) the limited partnership, (3) the limited compa ny and (4) the public limited company. Each Thai company is registered with the Department of Commercial Registration of the Ministry of Commerce and for taxation purposes with the Revenue department. Besides using the Thai court system, Neptune may establish its own arbitration agreement. At present Thailand is not a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.
340 Exploring Interncllional f3usiness Environments
Many countries make it difficult to get prof its out of the country. This is an important point.
Key l.egallssues for the foreign Investor
• Forming a Company in Thailand: As a foreigner seeking to engage in busi ness in Thailand, Neptune must apply in advance for an alien business per mit from the Department of Commercial Registration. In addjtion, we must obtain various operating licenses, including factory permits, commercial reg istration, tax registration, and residence work permits for our alien staff. Nep tune is also required to keep books and execute accounting as directed by the Civil and Commercial Code, the Revenue Code, and the Accounts Act. Guidelines for setting up our factory production facilities are specified by the Factory Act, which stipulates regulations for factory construction, oper ation, expansion, and safety requirements. The latest revision of the Act also imposes strict controls on industrial pollution. As a result, Neptune must contact numerous agencies and ministries, and is facing comprehensive administrative procedures. However, the BOI assists with streamlining appli cation procedures, customs clearance, and provides extensive investment information and support. Although BOI approval is not required for invest
Thiment in Thailand, Neptune should seek BOI assistance and promotion to reduce the amount of red tape, ease the investment process, and receive max rna’
hmimum investment benefits. its I
• Taxation: In conjunction with efforts to create a favorable climate for all businesses, recent government measures have focused on increasing the effi ciency of Thailand’s tax structure. Under the new tax regime, the government cut capital-goods import duties to only 5 percent, replaced the general busi ness tax with a 7 percent value-added tax (VAT), and has targeted further reductions on raw-material and intermediate-product imports. As Neptune’s project is devoted to export-oriented production, VAT will be levied at a zero rate, but we are still required to file a return. In addition, we can claim the return of VAT paid on all factors of production including intermediate goods. We are also subject to a 3.3 percent business tax and a local property tax levied on tenants. Further, if Neptune receives BOI promotion or locates within an Industrial Estate, we will receive the following regional investment privi leges: (1) a five-year exemption from import duties on imported raw materi als and components and (2) exemption or reduction of import duties on imported factory machinery.
• Exchange Controls: The Exchange Control Act governs all matters involv ing foreign exchange. As part of the government’s financial system liberal ization, foreign exchange controls were relaxed by removing most limitations Sol and allowing repatriation of profits, net of all taxes, to be made freely.? Thai im land has also assumed Article VIII status in the International Monetary Fund un (IMF), undertaking to refrain from the use of exchange and payment restric thE tions on international trade transactions. Additional rounds of liberalization inti have abolished limits on commercial lending to foreign busines~s,and elim bet inated the restrictions on the amount of foreign exchange and Thai currency that may be brought into Thailand. 8 The objective of Thailand’s foreign
This valuable infor mation gives Nep tune a sense of what its labor costs will be.
Some foreign ” investors avoid unions. Others find them helpful as intermediaries between managers and workers.
Developing cl Slrcllegy aile! PI’eparing Country /ncllysis Reports 341
exchange and financial liberalization policy is to create an environment that stimulates a more efficient economic framework; this will help to keep Nep tune’s cost of doing business low and maintain our competitiveness in export markets for our goods made in Thailand.9
Most Thai labor legislation falls under the Labor Relations Act of 1975. The Factory Control Department of the Ministry of Industry also administers labor laws. The Department inspects factories, and has the right to withhold licens es if worker safety standards are not met. lO
• Alien Work Permits: The Alien Occupation Law of 1973 requires Neptune employees wishing to work in Thailand to obtain work permits prior to start ing work. Our employees must comply with visa requirements. Alien per mits are renewable annually; however, if our project is approved by the BOI, we may be accorded rights to employ alien experts under renewable five year permits.
• Worker Rights: The 1975 Act guarantees to workers most internationally recognized labor practices. The maximum work week is 48 hours in industry; Neptune will be required to provide overtime compensation to workers exceeding this limit. The minimum employment age in Thailand is 13; how ever, Thai law restricts the employment of children between 13 and 15 to “light work” in non-hazardous jobs, and requires Department of Labor per mission before they can begin work. Minimum wage regulations will apply to our project, but actual rates will depend largely on the education of our workers. Conditions for termination of employment are also laid out, and a code governs unfair practices and unfair dismissals. Few fringe benefits are compulsory, though we will be responsible for minimum legal provisions including paid holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, injury benefits, and vaca tion pay. Since Neptune will require 20 or more workers, the Labor Law makes employee contracts mandatory (specifying employment and working condi tions) and requires us to contribute to a worker’s compensation fund (cover ing injury, sickness, and death).
• Social Security System: The Social Security Act of 1990 provides for Nep tune to contribute 1.5 percent of employees’ wages for injury, sickness, dis ability, death, and maternity. The allotment will eventually go up to 9.5 percent as additional employer contributions for child welfare, old age, and unem ployment are expected to be introduced within the next five years.
• Unionization Laws: Under the Labor Relations Act, Thai workers have the right to form and join unions of their own choosing. Once a union is estab lished, the law protects members from discrimination, dissolution, suspension, or termination because of union activities. Thai labor practices will present few impediments to Neptune’s management of its work forces. This situation is due to the fact that only 2 percent of the Thai industrial work force is unionized. l1
342 Exploring International Business Environments
Roads are clogged with traffic in Thai cities.
EIU The Economist Intelligent Unit pro d uces useful reports on countries. These are often available in business libraries.
The Thai Economy at a Glance
Despite prolonged uncertainty about the coalition government’s stability, Thailand’s economic growth is expected to be strong over the nE:’xt two years. 12
The export sector has been the principle engine of growth for the Thai econ omy. However, in the midst of rapid economic growth, the economy shows sign of overheating, with infrastructure constraints becoming more evident, and continuously rising wages. As a result public investment is being accel erated to improve the country’s infrastructure so it does not become a major impediment to future growth. Because of rising wages and competition from other emerging markets in the region, Thailand can no longer compete in labor-intensive activities solely on the basis of low labor costs.13 While rising wages will certainly increase the direct cost of our proposed investment, Thai wages would have to increase substantially to reach Alaskan levels.1 4
Key Economic Investment Indicators
Economic statistics are robust almost across the board. The growth in real GOP, forecast at 8.2 percent in 1993, projects an increase over 7.8 percent in 1994, and is expected to continue around 8 percent in 1995. The budget is pro jected to remain in surplus in 1995, despite the large jump in public sector spending on infrastructure projects. A rapid increase in credit and liquidity, partly caused by offshore inflows, has served to put downward pressure on interest rates. The prime lending rate is currently about 11.75 percent, down from 14 percent in January 1994. Interest rates, however, have likely reached their bottom, as the rapid growth of liquidity and the pickup in economic activity have led to an upward trend in inflation.
During the first quarter of 1994, inflation increased at an annualized rate of 4.8 percent. In the face of rising inflationary pressures, monetary policy will tighten over the remaining course of 1994 and into early 1995. As a result, interest rates have begun to move up. Although the Bank of Thailand (BOT) will be cautious about driving interest rates too high, the lending rate is still likely to move up to a range of 12.25-12.75 percent for the latter half of 1994. Although inflationary pressures showed signs of becoming more serious in 1994 the EIU is predicting that consumer price inflation will fall over a pro jected three-year outlook beginning in 1995. With moderately high interest rates and controlled inflation, the currency (which is managed by the gov ernment) should remain stable in the 1995-2000 period(question to the stu dent: did the currency remain stable in this period? What happened to the Thai bhat? Why did it happen? For information, look at Prof. Nouriel Roubi ni’s Asian Crisis home page on the WWW).
Developing cl Strategy and Preparing Country Incllysis Reports 343
ty, Infrastructure: Natural, Human, and Physical Resources !2
n Natural and Power Resources vs The natural resources of Thailand must be adequate to meet the operational 1t, demands of a secondary seafood processing plant, as must access to electric ~l- ity. This section covers Thailand’s land, regional areas, environmental aspects, or and electricity at Neptune’s disposal. m
Thailand at a Glancein Thailand covers 198,500 square miles and has a population of more than 5919
ai million people, with an excess of five million in the Bangkok area (BMR). The population growth rate is 1.36 percent, which is comparable to other neighboring countries and is higher than the United States.! The country has four main regions: (1) the Northern Mountains, (2) the Khorat Plateau, (3) the
al Central Plain and (4) the Southern Peninsula. 2 To relieve industrial concen in tration in the BMR and achieve balanced growth throughout the nation, the D Chuan government has pursued a policy of decentralization. Investment )r privileges are in place to support government goals in decentralizing Thai y, land’s industrial base. For administrative and policy purposes, the country .n has been divided into three “Investment Promotion Zones.” Zone 1 com n prises the Central Plain. This zone includes the BMR, which has the nation’s d highest concentration of people, traffic, and pollution. Zone 2 covers the ten ic provinces surrounding Zone 1. The remainder of the country makes up Zone
3. Promoted projects located in Zone 1 receive the least tax and promotion re incentives, while those in Zone 3 qualify for maximum promotion benefits. 3 y A Regional Profile t, ~)
The BOI offers a range of incentives to increase the likelihood of investment in less developed areas. Specifically, in response to the maximum investment11 incentives, lower utility costs, and low labor rates, Neptune should turn its1. attention to Zone 3. 4 In particular Neptune should locate in the southern n
)- region of Zone 3.
;t The population in the Southern peninsula is 7.5 million. Existing infra ,- structure facilities include two deep water seaports at Phuket and Songkhla I and a coastal port at Pattani. An Industrial Estate is scheduled to open in e Songkhla province within the coming year. The peninsula’s Southeastern i- coast borders the Gulf of Thailand, which will facilitate Neptune’s importing
and exporting activities to and from Thailand. In particular, Neptune should aim to locate in Songkhla province on the Southeastern seaboard. This area is a good place because of the deep water seaport needed to accommodate the larger containers ships transporting our imports and exports. In addition,
344 Exploring Internation’ll Business Envirollmenls
A large amount of infrastructure data on social and envi ronmental issues is published annually by the World Bank.
In developing coun tries finding a steady source of electricity is a major issue.
High infant mortality may indicate poor health conditions and low productivity.
Songkhla is the second most populated city in Thailand, providing Neptune with a larger base of people from which to draw production workers.
The Southern Industrial Estate, located in Songkhla Province, is targeted for Electronic and Seafood Processing industries. In addition tovBOI tax-based and service related incentives, locating within an Industrial Estate would pro vide the following additional benefits: (1) entry permits for skilled foreign workers, (2) complete infrastructure (developed land, utilities, services, cen tral waste water treatment facilities, and solid waste treatment facilities) and (3) an increase in the quota placed on the number of foreign workers we would be allowed to bring into Thailand.s
Of growing concern in Thailand is the strained water supply. Not only is there a lack of pure water, but there is a serious problem with water pollution from factories. The percentage of the population with access to a safe water supply is 64 percent, which is low when compared to other neighboring countries. This is a problem for us because of our need for ample unpolluted water in order to clean and process yellowfin sole. By locating in the Southern region where the rainfall is heaviest (averaging 157.5 inches per year), we will have a greater water supply available to us. Furthermore, we are encouraged to locate within an Industrial Estate because both a sufficient water supply and treatment system are available.
Thailand’s growing economy and expanding transportation sector have caused consumption of electricity to climb steadily at one of the highest growth rates in the world. Production currently exceeds consumption of elec tricity, but the gap is narrowing because the growth rate for consumption is greater than that of production. Due to Thailand’s scheduled infrastructure improvements, the government should be able to keep electricity production ahead of consumption. The percentage of loss of power is only 11 percent, which is not much higher than that of the United States. What this means for us is that we won’t need to concern ourselves with electrical outages as much as finding a building with electricity currently available.
For Thailand to be a good location for our processing plant the following con ditions should be met: the Thai people need to be trainable and productive.
Health and Living Conditions
Health and living conditions in Thailand are only fair. There are 2.29 doctors per 10,000 people, with this ratio increasing each year. The birth rate is 19.97 per 1,000 people, with an infant mortality of 38.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The life expectancy rate at birth is 68.28 years. There are many cases of AIDS
F g a:
d d l
For low value-added, global products such as fish fillets, wage rates are an impor tant consideration.
Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 345
reported, and the Thai people have a high incidence of pulmonary disease. Thailand is food self-sufficient due to the abundance of agriculture; therefore, malnutrition is of little concern.
The country operates on a multi-tier minimum wage system depending on the cost of living in the different provinces. However, Thai wages are not ade quate to support a worker and his/her family; consequently more than 60 percent of the Thai population is in the three lowest income brackets. This disparity is an indicator of potential social unrest in Thailand. However, the Thai people lessen this problem by living in homes with extended families that contribute to the household. In this situation they are able to maintain a mar ginally acceptable standard of living. 6
Thai Labor force
• An Overview of Employment: The current labor force is estimated at 33 mil lion, including all persons over the age of 13 years who are actively seeking employment. Of this figure 62 percent of them are in agricultural occupations. The unemployment rate for 1992 was 3.1 percent. The growth rate of the labor force is expected to decline from 3.6 to 2.9 percent annually, but this still reflects an annual increase of 830,000 workers per year. Thailand has one of the lowest levels of unionization in the region.? There is an abundance of unskilled or semi-skilled labor. However, there is a shortage of skilled work ers due to rapid growth of industrialization and low secondary school enroll ment (33% in 1991). Furthermore, managerial personnel are in short supply. Here is another reason why it is desirable to locate in Zone 3 or on an Indus trial Estate-fewer restrictions exist on bringing in Neptune’s U.S. managers.
• Cost: The minimum wage rate in Bangkok and nearby areas was raised on April 1, 1994 to Btl32 ($5.25 USD) per day, which is up 5.6 percent from last year. In more remote areas the daily minimum wage varies from Btl02 to BtllO. In particular, in Zone 3 the wage rate for our employees would be Btl08 ($4.30 USD) per day. In comparison to Vietnam and Indonesia, Thailand’s rate is considerably higher than their $1.80 USD per day rate.8 Although wage rates continue to rise in Thailand, they remain substantially lower than Alaskan labor rates, making this project a lower cost alternative.
• Productivity: In analyzing the indicators of worker productivity for develop ing countries, it is apparent that Thailand’s productivity is low. Based on statis tics from the World Bank, Thailand has a high infant mortality rate, low high school graduation rate, and only fair health. In addition, the post-primary edu cation rate for women was only 32 percent in 1991. Although this figure has increased from 15 percent in 1970, it is still substantially lower than the U.S. (90% in 1991). Another indicator of Thailand’s low productivity is its comparatively low GNP per capita ($1,840); the U.s. GNP per capita ($23,240) is substantially higher.9 Low productivity could pose a problem for Neptune due to our reliance on workers to hand-fillet the yellowfin. The success of our labor intensive pro ject depends on a work force which is healthy and able to learn.
346 Exploring International Business Environments
Foreign investors often try to borrow money in the host country. However, this is not always possible.
In this section we will look at the physical resources in Thailand to determine if transportation, buildings, and financing needed for our project are ade quate to suit Neptune’s needs.
Transportation in Thailand ranks among the best in Southeast Asia. The coun try has about 8,100 miles of paved roads and more than 2,400 miles of railroad track. There are 105 airports available, with 96 that are currently usable, and four international airports that provide daily flights between Thailand and other nations. Zone 3, on the other hand, has a limited transportation infra structure except in the Industrial Estates. The limited infrastructure will not inhibit us, because we will be on or close to the Gulf of Thailand, and most of our business will be conducted by cargo ships. Rivers and canals provide local transportation for passengers and cargo. The country has 6 main seaports to handle container cargo: Bangkok, Sattahip, Si Racha, Songkhla, Pattani, and Phuket. Songkhla, Pattani, and Phuket are located in Zone 3. Locating in this area thus would be a huge benefit for our company, because of our requirements to import yellowfin sole, process it on site, and export it to the U.s. and Europe for sale.
Thailand has 25,000 factories of which 40 percent are located in Zone 3. The majority of these factories are small and agricultural in nature. The Seafood Industry plays an increasingly important role in the Thai economy; thus exist ing seafood processing facilities are available as possible sites for Neptune’s joint venture. In addition, the BOI provides extensive assistance in locating joint venture partners. Since the facilities are available and an avenue for locating potential sites exists, we should have little difficulty setting up our production facility.lO
The primary sources of financing available in Thailand are loans from com mercial banks and finance companies. As an export-oriented investor in Thai land, financing is also available to us through the Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand. A large corporate borrower, with a good credit rating, will have no problem securing debt funding in Thailand at attractive rates. Thai banking institutions are actively seeking creditworthy borrowers and know that they must offer attrac tive rates to corporate treasurers who know that alternatives exist to domes tic borrowing.
i i i
Developing a Strategy and Preparing Country Analysis Reports 347
In our search for a potential market in Thailand, we need to evaluate, under stand, and respect the beliefs of the Thai individual as a part of the Thai cul ture. In this section we attempt to compare American and Thai culture by analyzing sociological and psychological behavioral patterns, education sys tems, religion, and language.
A Working Definition: The common beliefs, social forms, and material traits shared by a group of individuals is broadly defined as culture. In a much larger sense culture is a way of life. It integrates human behavior, which includes speech, thought, and action. In this context the individual plays a central role in his!Jter culture.
General Characteristics of the Thai Culture
Thai cultural characteristics and values have withstood the test of time throughout history. Even in modem times Thailand has been able to retain its cultural independence. This is an astonishing fact for a developing country. While most Asian countries view Western investment as a threat to traditional values, Thailand is wide open to all modem technology. Thailand has great assimilative capacity, and Thai people know how to move with the times without losing their identities. As a consequence, foreign investors are wel come and looked upon as a potential for further development rather than a threat to society. Thai cultural values, then, will dampen country risks due to political upheaval.